Friday, April 17, 2015

The Sign Of The Beaver

Matt and his father go to Maine to find a new home. They build a cabin and plant crops. Matt's father must go and get his mother and sister and bring them back to Maine. He leaves Matt to take care of the place. Matt gets into trouble and the only thing that keeps him alive is his new friendship with Saknis, a Penobscot chief and his grandson Attean. As time passes, Matt worries when his family does not arrive. Will Matt see his family again?

I read this book when I was younger, and was excited to have the Bookworms read it. This book is at a reading level for ages 8-12. It is historical fiction, but it provides a more personal way of introducing the 1760's to young readers. Depending on what they have learned in school, they might not understand why the relationship between the settlers and the Native Americans was so tense. This book does not go into great detail about that, so some background information would be helpful, but not necessary to understand the story.

I think the best part of this book is how it portrays friendship, and how important it is to set aside preconceived ideas. I liked reading how Matt slowly realizes ideas he has grown up with and never questioned do not fit his new experiences. I like that the author did not rush this change. Books for adults and young readers often make changes so quickly that it does not seem real. It was great to actually see the growth of his character.

This was the eleventh book the Bookworms read together. I picked this book because it was one I liked reading when I was Alejandro and Paige's age. It was their first time reading it, and it was fun to see how they reacted to the book. We had great discussions about history, friendship, and how we should treat other people. Here are a few of the Bookworms' thoughts on the book. Warning, there may be some spoilers.

Q&A With The Bookworms Book Club

How many stars out of 5 would you give this book?
Alejandro 41/2 when we began the discussion, but I change it to 5
Paige 4

What was your favorite part?
Paige I liked all of it a lot, but I think I liked the ending the best.
Alejandro When his Mom and Dad came.
Both I didn't think they would come.

How would you feel being left alone in the woods?
Alejandro I would think it isn't too long.
Paige I would be scared and worried I would get hurt. I would need to be careful.

As part of his agreement with Saknis, Matt teaches Attean to read with the book Robinson Crusoe. Have you ever taught anyone to read? What book would you use to teach someone to read?
Paige At school we have the Book Buddy Program. The older class goes to a younger class and helps them with reading. So I have taught people that way. I would use a Dr. Seuss book: Oh The Pets You Can Get because they might like it because it is easy and they would want or have a pet.
Alejandro I taught my sister to read a word. I would use a simple book but maybe a chapter book. Like a Geronimo Stilton book.

What does friendship mean to you?
Alejandro That you are nice to each other, stand up for them.
Paige You are close and help each other. You are happy together.

Why do you think Matt did not go with Attean?
Alejandro Because he wanted to wait in case his family came.
Paige He had hope his family would come back.

Is there anything else you would like to say about the book?
Paige It was nice and I like that they got to be friends.
Alejandro It was really good. I liked the part when they killed the bear and became friends.

Thank you Alejandro and Paige for reading and reviewing this book with me. I look forward to our next book!

Monday, April 6, 2015

This Is What You Just Put In Your Mouth?

What is really in some of the products most people do not think twice about popping in their mouth? Does a Slim Jim meat stick have meat in it? What is Cool Whip? If I Can't Believe It's Not Butter is not butter, what is it? What are you chewing when you eat gum? Di Justo takes a look at what is really in products we eat, and it is often surprising what people are willing to eat.

I was intersted in this book because I care about eating healthy, and was curious to discover what food items were included in this book. I liked the variety of products discussed, everything from Egg Nog to heroin was covered. There is a section for items you don't put in your mouth that covers products such as: deodorant, mascara, fabric softener, and shampoo.

The format of the book was to say the name of the product, explain what the ingredients are and what they are commonly used for, and the backstory. I liked that there was a breakdown of the ingredients, that is very helpful if you do not know what something is, or what else it is used for. Although I thought there could have been more clear explanations or connections made at some points. The backstory could be interesting, but I felt that there was a lack of information at some points. I found it fascinating how difficult it could be for the author to talk to some companies about their product. I wish there had been more than a page for most of the items where the author talked about the product, his research, and why it might not be the greatest idea to use some of these things.

I wanted to like this book, but I could not really engage with the information. I think if it had been presented in a different way I would have liked this book more. If you are looking for a book of random facts this will be great for you. If you are looking for a book to help you understand what you are eating with in depth explanations, you should chose a different book.

I read this as an ebook on my Nook. It seemed to work fine for the most part. A couple of the back stories did not appear at the end of a section as was typical, but in the middle of the ingredient list. I am not certain if that was intentional or an error. A few of the products did not have back stories, but again, that could have been intentional.

**I received a free copy of this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for an honest review**

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book sooner than I would have gotten to it, or a book I would not have heard about otherwise.

Friday, April 3, 2015

The Gift Of Charms

In a secret land protected from humans, live the last of the dragons. They are hiding from humans and the dragsaurs--beasts that would destroy dragons. The dragons live normal lives. Some are guards, teachers, make items, go to school, or provide food. Their tasks become more difficult because their talents are fading. One day a strange egg hatches, and Yoshiko is born. Yoshiko faces many challenges, and must go on a dangerous mission in the human world to return magic to the dragons. Will Yoshiko complete his mission in time?

I received a free copy of this book to review from the author*. I had not heard of this book before, and was happy to discover a new book. It was an engaging coming of age story. Yoshiko faces many challenges that readers can identify with such as: problems with bullies, trying to find his place in the world, and being a little different from everyone else. Being able to identify with the main character(even thought he is a dragon and we are humans) really helped pull me into this fantasy world.

I really liked the details in this book, such as: the information about the different dragon clans and the important role they all play in keeping the community strong, the dragon mythology, or fire flowers that only open to the flames of dragon cave fires. I thought there was the perfect amount of detail to make you feel part of this fantasy world, without overwhelming the reader. I think it would be a great book for ages 7-12, but other ages would probably enjoy it as well.

Suzuki writes an excellent fantasy story, and I cannot wait to read more of her books! If you enjoy fantasy or books about dragons, I recommend reading this book.

*Receiving a free copy of this book does not change my review. It simply provides me with a copy of a book I would not have read as soon or heard about otherwise.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Ark Before Noah

The Ark Before Noah begins with the arrival of a cuneiform tablet to the British Museum in 2008. Someone brought it in to have it examined by Dr. Finkel, an expert in the field. It ended up being more important than either could have expected. Dating to 1850 BC, it is a copy of the Babylonian Flood Story. One of the interesting things on this tablet were the detailed instructions on how to build the ark. The discoveries on this tablet combined with information from other sources, lead to Dr. Finkel to reveal his new information on the topic in this book.

This book has been on my to read list since I heard about it on a podcast from History Extra. I enjoyed reading about the history of Mesopotamia and learning more about cuneiform. It really helped me understand more about the language, and why the flood story was very popular. I also really liked the comparison of different flood myths from different cultures. It was very interesting to see how the different narratives were the same or where they differed, and why that might be.

The material was very interesting, and I appreciated that Finkel gave a lot of background information that directly related to the topic to help readers understand why this tablet was such an interesting discovery. I do think you will need to be very interested in the topic to appreciate this book. A person with passing interest might not care for all the details on cuneiform or the different types of boat and materials that could have been used.

I would recommend reading this book.